PETA promotes Australians to feel empathy for abused chickens by using virtual reality technology.
PETA visited The University of New South Wales (UNSW) for their Australia wide “I, Chicken” tour with assistance from Animal Voices UNSW.
At UNSW students and staff experienced what it felt like to be a chicken trapped in a cage and transported for slaughter.
Outreach Coordinator for PETA Australia Claire Dicarlo explained what the virtual reality viewing was like for participants.
“People hold up Google cardboard viewers and they have headphones on and they’re taken through a two and a half minute virtual reality experience which is completely 360 degrees,” she said.
“They start off as a free chicken who is living in a field with all their chicken friends and can socialise and can roost in the trees.
“The end is your arrival at the abattoir where you see a conveyor belt come down… and you have that feeling of impending doom.”
Miss Dicarlo said the viewing will hopefully challenge the notion that chickens are a product to be used by humans.
“You really just want to give people the chance to experience first-hand what it’s like to be a chicken taken to slaughter and start to see chickens as individuals rather than breasts or wings or legs,” she said.
Web Developer at the UNSW Tanya Sager said the event was a positive and eye-opening experience for the community.
“I personally tried the virtual reality glasses and it was a great experience,” she said.
“I can’t believe how much it puts you inside the life of a chicken, and in a short space of time makes it possible to see and feel things from their perspective.”
Miss Sager said the virtual reality technology had a real possibility to encourage people to understand animals and feel empathy towards them.
“If we can’t even imagine our existence as another animal, be it human or non-human, how can we ensure that we are doing the right thing by them,” she said.
Miss Dicarlo said the purpose of the tour seems to be having a good reaction from Australians across many of the cities they have already visited.
“We do find people go away with a different perspective of these animals which is really great,” she said.
Miss Dicarlo said the event will hopefully spark a concern for one of the most abused animals on the planet.
“In Australia more than half a billion chickens are slaughtered every year for their flesh and more than six million hens are part of the egg industry,” she said.
Miss Dicarlo said the cause needs further action to safe-guard the enforcement of animal welfare.
“In Australia we do have codes of practice in place for the welfare of these animals but there’s not any federal law which actually enforced those codes of practice,” she said.
“We would love to see that the codes of practice aren’t voluntary anymore.”
Miss Sager said people should take action to not only further relate to animals but to care about their quality of life.
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to understand the lives of others, and therefore do our best to facilitate their happy existence,” she said.